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20 January 2007, 09:02 am
A Wet Day For Medal Races
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Sail Melbourne 2007
Melbourne, Australia

The Olympic and Invited Classes Regatta hosted by Sandringham Yacht Club at the ISAF Grade 1 Sail Melbourne conducted the Medal Races as a finale to the week-long event in very wet conditions today. With the wind up and down throughout the day all fleets completed their Medal Race.
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With Athens bronze medallist and leader in the Laser Vasilij ZBOGAR (SLO) having to leave the event a day early, he was scored as a tenth place, as double points in the Medal Race cannot be discarded.

Capitalizing on ZBOGAR's absence, Kristian RUTH (NOR) came fifth in the Medal Race, but had enough up his sleeve to take the gold medal four points ahead of Brett BEYER (AUS). RUTH has his sights set on the ISAF Worlds in Portugal and will be competing in the European circuit in the lead up to the regatta in Cascais.

BEYER should be proud. At 40 years old, the four time current Laser Masters World Champion is still extremely competitive and still beats the Olympic hopefuls he coaches around courses.

Taking first place in the Medal Race, Blair MCLAY (AUS) placed third overall, but finished the main part of the series quite some points behind the more experienced ZBOGAR, RUTH and BEYER.

Results
Men's RS:X
Women's RS:X
Laser
Laser Radial
Finn
Men's 470
Women's 470
49er
SKUD18
2.4 Metre

With three earlier races of the series abandoned due to unfit racing conditions, the Laser Radial class got their Medal Race away in a six knot breeze.

As winds increased on the course, so did Krystal WEIR's (AUS) performance. The Victorian revelled in the conditions to take first place from Cushla HUME-MERRY (NZL) in second. The number of races abandoned was frustrating for all, but as Melbourne sailor WEIR pointed out: 'at least we got some starting practice in!'

With the windier conditions not favouring the Singapore girls, they slipped down the board. WEIR took first place for the overall series on 13 points followed by third place getter in the Medal Race, Gabrielle KING (AUS) on 23. Victoria CHAN (SIN) was just two points behind in third after finishing fourth in the Medal Race.

Light Wind Stars Excel in RS:X fleets

The wind had decreased by the time the RS:X sailors started and after leading the series from day one with seven straight wins on his scorecard, Benjamin TILLIER (FRA) finished the Men's Medal Race a surprising seventh and had to relinquish overall first place to Tomizawa MAKOTO (JPN) who relished the light airs.

'MAKOTO is really fast in light winds, that is what I need to concentrate on,' the Frenchman commented.

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Krystal WEIR was back to
her best in the Radial
© Jeff Crow, Sport the Library
at Sail Melbourne
Unsurprisingly, another light air specialist, Chi Ho HO (HKG) finished second in the race for third in the series.

Light winds also affected some in the Women's RS:X fleet. World Champion Alessandra SENSINI (ITA) came home third in the Medal Race, but having led the fleet all week, had enough in store to win the series by ten points.

Again, the Medal Race went to a good light air sailor, Wai Kei CHAN (HKG), whose win gave her second place overall from Formula Windsurfing World Champion Allison SHREEVE (AUS).

SHREEVE finished the race fifth, one place behind Jessica CRISP (AUS), but CRISP finished the series in fourth place overall behind SHREEVE. The battle is well and truly on between the two Australian girls for the spot on the 2008 Olympic Sailing Team. This battle has raged through the two past Olympic Games, with CRISP winning the place to both Sydney and Athens.

2.4 Metres Close

The 2.4 Metre Medal Race led to a very close finish board in a three way battle for the prize. Paralympian Peter THOMPSON won the race for third overall, Peter RUSSELL (AUS) finished the race second and Michael LEYDON (AUS), who led most the series, finished the race third. The latter two finished the series equal on 22 points, with RUSSELL taking first on countback. THOMPSON was just one point behind them.

Tobias ETTER and Felix STEIGER (SUI) continued their domination of the combined 470 class, winning the final race and the series to easily taking the championship. Consistent sailing paid for Mathieu HIGGINS and Timothy LYNCH (AUS) who stole second place from four-time Olympian Dmitry BEREZKIN and Alexander ZYBIN (RUS).

In the Women's 470, Liying TOH and Deborah ONG (SIN), members of the Singapore Olympic Team, took first place overall and finished sixth in the combined scores. Catherine CARROLL and Rita YAU (HKG) were second in the Women's.

Sail Melbourne will host the 2008 470 Men's and Women's Worlds on Port Phillip, so for those here, the experience was an important one.

Clean Sweep for WILLIAMS

Michael WILLIAMS (AUS) in the Finn class scored every sailors dream, bullets in every race to take the Championship from old campaigner John SHALLVEY (AUS) and Geoffrey FRANCIS (AUS).

With the Finn Gold Cup also coming to Sail Melbourne in 2008, these guys will be out on Port Phillip putting in some hours training to be competitive for next year - a good move considering the competition they will be up against.

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Ame BARNBROOK and Leigh DUNSTAN
won the final race in the SKUD18
© Jeff CROW, Sport the Library at
Sail Melbourne
While Ame BARNBROOK and crew Leigh DUNSTAN (AUS) won the final race of the SKUD18, champion blind sailor Paul BORG (AUS) with crew Morgan STALEY had enough in the bank to win the event by one point.

At the Presentation Ceremony, BARNBROOK displayed another of her many talents entertaining competitors and guests with jazz on her trumpet. The 18 year old Victorian was born with Phocoamelia, a condition that manifests itself by the absence of limbs, but has never let that stop her from achieving her goals in life.

Will PHILLIPS and Jon NEWMAN (AUS) enjoyed in the breezier conditions on Port Phillip, scoring yet another bullet to easily win the 49er series. The Croatian pair of Bojan VRSCAJ and Nikola TOPIC came second overall after a few dips in cold of Port Phillip Bay, shuddering but happy when they came ashore.

Lachlan PEARMAN and Aaron GAVIN (AUS) who did not finish today's race, finished third overall on countback.

Sail Melbourne is hosting the 49er Worlds in 2008 and PHILLIPS and NEWMAN used this event as practice for bigger things to come at those Worlds, looking forward to sailing well on home turf.

Other Titles

David CHAPMAN and Dean CURTIS (AUS) had a near-perfect series in the 29er, taking first place overall from James SLY and Shane VOYER (AUS) and Emma-Louise DALY and Amy MERCER (AUS). With the 29er Worlds also in Melbourne in 2008, all these crews will be training hard to make the cut for the event.

That wraps the Sandringham Yacht Club hosted Sail Melbourne Olympic and Invited Classes for another year. Many of the sailors competing here are heading off to the ISAF Grade 1 Sail Auckland and then to the Northern Hemisphere for the European circuit.

Sail Melbourne looks forward to welcoming all sailors in 2008, with no less than five World Championships. The ISAF Grade 1 Olympic and Invited Classes Regatta in 2008 will be one of the last events before the all important Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

Event Wide Sponsors for Sail Melbourne are State Government of Victoria, Collex, Parks Victoria. Associate Sponsors are Bayside City Council and Menere's BMW Brighton. Support Sponsors are Singapore Airlines, Ronstan International, Schenker Australia, City of Kingston, Yachting Australia, Yachting Victoria

Sail Melbourne will be included in the first running of the ISAF World Cup© series for the Olympic Classes. For more on the ISAF World Cup© CLICK HERE.

For all the news on Sail Melbourne CLICK HERE.

Di Pearson (As Amended by ISAF). Image, Another gold medal for Alessandra SENSINI:© Jeff Crow, Sport the Library at Sail Melbourne
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